Rock

Zakk Wylde Stays Road Hungry Despite Ozzy Osbourne Tour Postponement

Zakk Wylde
Justin Reich

Zakk Wylde

The guitarist's own Black Label Society continues its North American tour and plans on a new album.

Ozzy Osbourne’s North American No More Tours 2 outing may be postponed again, but rest assured Zakk Wylde has no plans to sit around twiddling his guitar-playing thumbs during that unexpected time off.

“You just keep busy,” says the longtime Osbourne sidekick, who just started his own North American tour with his Black Label Society band on Feb. 26 and has plans for his Zakk Sabbath tribute band. “As far as with the boss, Ozzy’s taking his vitamins and hitting the iron, and just healing up and getting ready. And when he’s ready, we’ll roll.”

Nevertheless, the postponement -- which comes in the wake of multiple health issues, including Osbourne suffering from a fall, and the need for him to continue treatment for Parkinson’s disease -- was a disappointment for all concerned. “If it was up to Ozzy, we [would have been] doing shows six months ago. He wants to go,” says Wylde. “He’s like, ‘F--k, this sucks. I can still do it. The last tour was so good!..' I’m just like, ‘You’ll know when you’re ready. No one’s going away, dude. You’ll know when you’re ready. It’s just a matter of time.’ ”

But on the recorded-music front, Osbourne recently has been enjoying success with the February release of his new solo album Ordinary Man, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top Rock Albums and Hard Rock Albums charts. Its title track, which features fellow U.K. music icon Elton John, peaked at No. 23 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs listing.

Wylde (who did not perform on Ordinary Man) will be making the most of the time that’s back in his own hands. The Black Label Society tour runs until March 28, and he expects to get back in the studio sooner rather than later to start work on a follow-up — what he calls “the next Black Label comedy hour opus” — to 2018’s Grimmest Hits.

“I’m going to do some writing, I guess, in April, and [in] May and June, we’ll [record] and have that one ready to roll,” says Wylde. “I don’t demo or stockpile shit. Never have. I’m not like Prince, where he’s recording stuff all the time. I just like to come up with a riff or an idea and be like, ‘Why don’t we track that one today?’ It’s like the beginning of a new season. It’s always fun.”

Wylde expects to take Black Label Society -- which he founded in 1998 and has featured a rotating cast of more than a dozen members (including Metallica’s Robert Trujillo during the early 2000s) -- back on the road in Europe later this year as well. Zakk Sabbath, meanwhile, will be putting out a new album -- a track-for-track rendition of Black Sabbath’s self-titled 1970 debut -- in a package that also will feature live footage from the group’s recent European tour.

“I’ve been listening to that record since I was 11, 12 years old, and playing those songs since I started playing guitar,” says Wylde. “In a lot of ways, it’s no different than when I was a teenager playing keg parties, except now there’s more people. It’s definitely a blast, man. It’s some of my favorite music, and a lot of other people love it, so we’re giving them our take on it.”